Jul. 10th, 2014

mildmaythecat: (rook)
(Two years later...)


Let me talk to you about one of my favorite books: Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett.

First thing's first: Steampunk dragons. I mean...it's right there on the cover. Steampunk dragons. If that's not enough to entice you, how about magicians? How about a massive range of fascinating characters? How about canon same-sex relationships between characters whose sexuality is just one of a long list of their traits? Is this starting to sound like fun yet?

Havemercy takes place in the country of Volstov, which has been at war with the neighboring Ke-Han nation for a century. Volstov's ace in the hole is their elite Dragon Corps, who ride sentient mechanical/magical dragons into battle. Ringleader of the corps is Rook who, while undeniably good at his job, is incredibly insensitive, foul-mouthed, and offensive to just about everyone. His behavior gets the entire corps wrangled into "sensitivity training" run by Thom, a stubborn and intelligent 'Versity student who is terrified of the task but determined to hide it.

On the other side of the country, skilled magician Royston has been exiled for causing an international incident. While staying with his estranged family he becomes enamored of Hal, bookish tutor to his nieces and nephews, but being thrown under the bus by his last lover means romance is the last thing on his mind. Hal subsequently struggles to drag Royston out of his shell while trying to sort out his own feelings for him. The two story threads collide when those in the city begin to suspect that something is going wrong with their magic--and the dragons.

The worldbuilding in this book is fantastic, thorough and believable, and the plot is a lot of fun, but Havemercy's real strength is in its characters. The narration switches POV's between Royston, Hal, Thom and Rook, and each of them has a distinct voice and personality. For example, Royston's brand of intellectually phrased snark is very different from Rook's crude, expletive-filled one (and Thom's blend of the two--this book has a lot of sass in it, can you tell?). The relationships between them are equally fun to watch. Royston and Hal complement each other well but their age difference--and Royston's worldliness compared to Hal's relative naiveté--causes problems. Rook and Thom snipe at each other from day one, but they're undeniably drawn to one another as well. There's also a wealth of secondary characters (the Dragon Corps alone consists of fifteen members) with personalities and traits of their own.

I have a deep and abiding adoration for this book. It's the first of a really fun four-book series, but Havemercy stands on its own just fine. I will say that I wish it had more women in it (something more or less remedied in later installments), but other than that, it's a genuine delight. I highly recommend this one.


mildmaythecat: (Default)

October 2016


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